05 September 2005

Period Pains

That time of the month is more of an ordeal for some women than it is for others. As if the inconvenience and indignity of menstruating are insufficiently trying, all manner of other things can (and do) happen to a woman’s body and mind.

I have no stories of my own to tell. Suffice it to say that I have mood swings and that people at work have learned to avoid "plink’s Desk of Death.”

Reading is excellent use of mood swings. The good stuff, where the guy and the girl get together and live happily ever after, reduces me to an incoherent blubbering mess. The really good stuff where good defeats evil and all that, has neighbours pounding on floors and walls trying to shut me up. Yess!! Oh YES!!

Having music tug at the heartstrings when I’m in that state is also an interesting experience, but I digress.

One friend had an altogether different problem: period pains. She didn’t get the faint, nagging trouble that some people suffer with. We were sat in a well-lit library when she had an episode and she explained it all to me.

Annie (not her real name) and I had just judged a number of books by the covers (as you do) and were about to read the most interesting ones when she suddenly turned pale. The library was well lit and it was quite a shock to see her change colour and drop rather heavily into her seat.

When the moment had passed, she told me all about it. She told me about the constant, week-long ache that kept her awake at night. She also told of a horrible, tearing sensation that would start without warning. Occasionally, she said, she would pass out.

A number of things started to make sense then. Annie had been unable to sustain relationships beyond her time of the month. She had also been branded moody and named a witch (or something sounding like that). Annie also seemed to lose weight around her periods, which she put down to not eating well.

For three weeks of every month, Annie would be a thoroughly nice person. Sunshine, smiles and rainbows would prevail. Then during the week of horror, she would be this pale, moody, curiously-puffy-faced-yet-losing-weight witch.

Annie told me that she could endure the suffering if she knew she could have children. Not knowing for certain frightened her no end. Worse, this fear would return to gnaw at her every time she had period pains.

Still, she was very matter-of-fact about it: I was the one changing colour as she told her story.

However, living with the problem had warped her sense of humour. Our discussion ended when she said that it once hurt so badly that it loosened her bowels.

I had to excuse myself at that point.

This post is dedicated to women out there with period pains and worse. For putting up with all this, plus men and other women who don’t understand, we salute you.

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